Without snow weighing them down, evergreen limbs sway in the wind under winter’s grey blanket. Rain showers roll through the valley and I wonder if conditions are right today for snow on the mountain. I incessantly check the cams and stations at varying elevations.
The season is off to a slow start. A few teaser snow days, rumors of fresh tracks and the occasional picture of gear or a group heading uphill gets posted on my feed. One ice storm. The usual reports on the evening news of trees falling down in the metro area. If you believe the news, there are no trees left standing and the relatively warm temperatures are a blessing. Nonsense. “El Nino!” “Windstorm!” “Pineapple!” the weather forecasters claim. If this early winter weather were a person, it would be the sloppy relative with a comb over who had too much eggnog… it really needs to get its act together.
In one week I’ve been snowshoeing, fishing, mountain biking, and road riding. My neighbor went cross-country skiing yesterday. While grabbing coffee in town I overheard a tale about a group hiking for early season turns during the last storm. The local mountain bike guru forecaster has issued a brown pow alert several times in recent weeks. As I pull up to trailheads this time of year, I get excited if there are other vehicles. Kindred spirits – unfazed by the colder, damp conditions – know that dressing for it makes all the difference. My dog’s coat is thicker now. She’s obviously advanced in the ways of enjoying the outdoors (she is always happy on the trail) so I follow suit and grab a thicker insulation piece to wear under my shell. Digging tires into loamy winter goodness is a nice consolation for winter being slightly delayed.
All this input has me running in circles, inducing a gear management and laundry marathon. It seems every piece of long underwear has been used in the last two weeks.
Wait, didn’t I have a thicker merino top in the gear closet? Or did I wear it on that early season Lewis River ride last spring? It’s not in my riding pack… oh, the other closet with the thicker mountain bike gloves. Bingo! Eww, into the laundry with that one too…
This process repeats itself several times, burning countless hours, until I’ve located the majority of my favorite gear from last winter/spring. There is always something missing, so I pull up my handy web browser, type my search term, and start combing the results to ensure I fill the ever-changing gaps in my gear.
While online, I check the cams again. Soon, I think. I hope. I have faith that winter will deliver. I dig my skis out and admire the thick coat of summer wax that went on them last June. I fight the urge to scrape them off and become OCD about tuning perfect edges. I’ll wait ‘til the snow really falls. In the meantime, I’ll take the pup for a walk, gather with my fellow outdoor aficionados, do snow dances, and continue to watch the sky for the signs. Faith comes in many forms. It will come. The sooner the better.